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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

‘He left with ease’: Sac State meets familiar face against Stanford

Hornets look to play spoiler in Troy Taylor’s home opener
Siany Harts
Sacramento State heads south to play Stanford in Palo Alto Saturday at 5 p.m. for a match versus their former head coach Troy Taylor. Senior running back Marcus Fulcher expressed frustration at Taylor’s exit from the team, “It was crazy, he kinda left with ease.” (Graphic created in Canva by Siany Harts. Photos L-R: James Fife, Shaun Holko)

At 11:46 p.m on Dec. 9 2022, Incarnate Word ended Sacramento State’s dream 12-0 season in a shootout that has gone down in the record books as one of the greatest of all time.

Not even 12 hours later at 10:09 a.m, Sac State was looking for a head coach. The most prolific head coach in school history, Troy Taylor, had become the next head coach of the Stanford Cardinal.

“It was crazy, he kinda left with ease,” senior running back Marcus Fulcher said. “It shows that he didn’t really care. It was a lot on us, and it got really tough for a couple of days.”

Fulcher feels like Taylor left too abruptly, but says despite his departure the Hornets haven’t missed a beat.

“We found out who our head coach was and we were rolling from there,” Fulcher said. “I’ve respected coach [Andy] Thompson from day one, I really liked him before he was head coach.”

When Thompson got the job the first thing he did was meet with the players one-on-one and discussed two major things.

“Number one, that I care about them as people,” Thompson said. “Then I asked them about their football career and what we needed to do to help them be their very best. It really came down to those two things.”

RELATED: Sac State introduced Andy Thompson as new head football coach

Thompson experienced coaching transitions as well. When he was a linebacker at Montana he played under three different head coaches and five different position coaches.

“I tried to draw on my own experience,” Thompson said. “When it happened I knew there was some uneasiness, but that’s a part of college football.”

Sac State is on their way to Palo Alto to meet Taylor and his Cardinal for a matchup Hornet fans have had on their calendars for the whole summer. Here are the three key things to watch for in the matchup between the Hornets and the Cardinal.

Improve: to make or become better

Getting better week to week will be a focus of Thompson’s all year. On the defensive side of things he has worked with his team on their run fits after Commerce ran for 144 yards last week.

“Each week I’m gonna have something we can improve on,” Thompson said. “Even for myself, I thought I called a timeout a little too early before the half. We are always going to try and improve.”

The focus on offense was third down, an area the Hornets struggled with last week. They converted on just 4 of 10 on third down against Texas A&M Commerce, a mark that has to be improved.

Third down and two minute situations are where the game of football is won and lost. Sac State has to be better in these scenarios if they want to play spoiler to Taylor’s home opener.

‘We got nothing to lose’

With all the hype surrounding the game, it has fallen on Thompson’s shoulders to keep his team focused and in the moment.

“The [players] get a chance to be on a PAC-12 stage and more than anything I want them to enjoy it,” Thompson said. “We got nothing to lose. Win or lose, we are going to play next week at Idaho.”

The message seems to have found a home with the Hornets’ roster. Despite bringing a chip on their shoulder the team is preparing like it’s just another game.

“At the end of the day it’s just another game that we are taking on,” senior linebacker Jeremy Harris said. “We approach each game the same, everyone we play next is a good team.”

This game will close out the Hornets’ non-conference schedule and serve as a litmus test for the rest of the Hornets’ season.

Sac State was heavily favored in the first two matchups, however it is time to see the team against a power five opponent. ESPN analytics is only giving the Hornets a 14.2% to win this game, if they look good here the Big Sky is the limit.

David: slinging the rock

Stanford’s run defense has been the better half of the defense this season, which means Sac State will have to succeed through the air first and foremost. This puts the ball in the hands of junior quarterback Kaiden Bennett, who has fared well throwing the ball deep, but struggled over the middle.

Luckily for Bennett he’s yet to be sacked this season thanks to his offensive line up front, but that front is injured. This means Bennett will have to be sharp if Sac State has any hope.

“[Bennett] can pass, run, he can hand it off,” Fulcher said. “He frees us up on offense a lot. He’s a big part of the offense.”

It looks like Bennett will once again be without senior star tight end Marshel Martin IV, who is dealing with a ‘total leg injury’ according to Thompson. Martin is on the right track and practiced Wednesday, but Thompson couldn’t say for sure he’d be ready for Saturday.

“I want him to be ready,” Thompson said. “He knows his body, he knows when he’s ready and when he’s not. It was good to see him out here today, but I don’t want to say anything for sure that I don’t know.”

Stanford has yet to face a quarterback who has used the dual-threat ability Bennett has, which leaves the door open for Sac State to surprise them and catch the defense lacking early.


Jack Freeman, Co-Sports Editor (2-0): This is a game I’ve gone back and forth on all summer. On paper, Sac State is at a disadvantage making the jump to play a PAC-12 opponent, but I just get a feeling I can’t shake about this game. It’s like they say, the most dangerous thing a society can create is a team with a chip on its shoulder and nothing to lose.

Sac State: 31, Stanford: 27

Myla Booth, Co-Sports Editor (2-0): I know this is going to be a huge game and it can go either way. I believe it will be a close game, but Sac State will still end up on top. They seem ready to show Stanford what they got.

Sac State: 37, Stanford: 31

Chris Woodard, Managing Editor (2-0): The game we have been waiting for! I expect the Hornets to strike first, and strike hard, but the strength of a PAC-12 roster will eventually overcome the adversity of a group of angry, fired-up Hornets. We are in for a nail-biter.

Sac State: 24, Stanford: 28

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Jack Freeman
Jack Freeman, Managing Editor
Jack Freeman joined The State Hornet in spring 2022 as a staff writer and is currently a junior majoring in journalism. He returns as a Managing editor, resident Indoor football aficionado, and Kellen Moore fan.
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  • George Medina jrSep 15, 2023 at 12:59 pm

    Stingers up !